The UK's Liver Building as digital canvas

Luminous Flux from the macula on Vimeo.

“Video projection mapping” is a relatively new technique that has been gaining momentum in the art and advertising worlds for the past five years (did anyone else catch Ralph Lauren’s crazy “4D” demonstration on Madison Ave last year?). In essence, the method uses specialized software to turn any possible surface into a video display, warping and masking the images to fit perfectly on anything you can think of. One of the main advantages of the technique is scale: with minimal resources, video mappers can turn anything into a giant, digital canvas.

One spectacular recent example is “Luminous Flux,” projected last week on England’s Liver Building for the opening of the New Museum of Liverpool. Designed by Czech video artists, The Macula, the mesmerizing display uses the building’s entire facade as a screen, showing everything from eagles in flight (cooler than it sounds) to a massive skeleton/demon lurking over the rooftop. At one point, an old-timey sailboat appears to crash through the brick walls, allowing the ocean behind it to surge into the audience. There’s even an air-raid scene, complete with B-52 bombers and scattered explosions. One particularly elegant segment features a steam engine train in black silhouette, puffing smoke up to the clockower as it passes the structure.

The entire project took over eight months to produce, but after watching the video and seeing how all the particulars of each setting are  contoured specifically to the Live Building, I’m surprised it didn’t take longer. If you’re in the UK this week, drop that tray of tea and raspberry biscuits and check this thing out in person.